September 09, 2015
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Lowering sugar-sweetened beverage intake may increase HDL cholesterol in children

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Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages was positively associated with triglyceride concentrations, and changes in sugar-sweetened beverage intake were inversely associated with increases in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol among a multi-ethnic cohort of children.

“A clustering of risk factors including high triglycerides, low HDL [cholesterol], insulin resistance and obesity, especially if begun in childhood, puts one at higher risk for future cardiovascular disease. In this study, we sought to better understand the relationship between lipid levels and [sugar-sweetened beverages] consumption in a population of school children in which health disparities were likely, and where future interventions could help improve diet quality and disease risk,” Maria Van Rompay, PhD, of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, said in a press release.

Among a diverse cohort of children aged 8 to 15 years, researchers assessed cross-sectional associations between baseline sugar-sweetened beverage intake and blood lipid concentrations (n = 613) and longitudinal associations between mean sugar-sweetened beverage intake, changes in sugar-sweetened beverage intake and lipid changes over 12 months (n = 380).

Greater sugar-sweetened beverage intake was associated with lower socioeconomic status, higher total energy, lower fruit and vegetable intake and more sedentary time.

Greater sugar-sweetened beverage intake was associated with higher plasma triglyceride concentrations, according to cross-sectional analysis. Children who consumed fewer than two sugar-sweetened beverage servings had a triglyceride concentration of 62.4 mg/dL, those who consumed between 2 and 7 servings had a concentration of 65.3 mg/dL, and those who consumed at least 7 servings had a concentration of 71.6 mg/dL.

Plasma HDL cholesterol showed no cross-sectional association.

In longitudinal analysis, mean sugar-sweetened beverage intake was not associated with lipid changes over 12 months. However, children who decreased their intake at least one serving per week had greater increases in 12-month plasma HDL cholesterol concentrations compared with children whose intake stayed the same or increased.

“Importantly, not only are most [sugar-sweetened beverages] high in sugar and devoid of nutritional value, but they are displacing other foods and beverages that offer high nutritional quality, which are critical for children’s growth and development, further exacerbating the potential harmful health effects of [sugar-sweetened beverages],” Jennifer Sacheck, PhD, of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, said in the release. – by Amanda Oldt

Disclosure: Van Rompay reports receiving support from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the NIH, award number R01HL106160. Please see the full study for a list of all authors’ relevant financial disclosures.